THE STORY OF A 100-YEAR-OLD COMPANY

This is the story of a 100-year-old company and four generations of the Schmitz family, whose collective entrepreneurship has faced numerous challenges and found solutions to match.

There was never a question of Rotarex (formally Ceodeux) limiting itself to a handful of products or markets. This family business has always striven to innovate its products and production processes, and worked hard to expand a global client base.

This approach enabled the firm to adapt to the numerous economic, social and geopolitical changes which have marked the last century. Openness and innovation were also required when managing acquisitions of international businesses, moves which often led to changes in processes and client relationships.

Rotarex is a Luxembourg company with a global presence. It has nine business units, over 30 sales offices across five continents, with our valves, regulators, and gas control systems sold in more than 150 countries.

The workforce is nearly 2,000 strong, of whom 900 are in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Annual sales will approach €300m in 2022. 3% of the value of this turnover is invested annually into research and development. Spending on new equipment totals around €15M every year.

This investment comes alongside the construction of our new 40.000 m2 plant and headquaters in Bissen scheduled for completion in 2024, and the investment in a new 7,000m2 factory in South Korea.

  • 1922 – 1930s
    INNOVATIVE FOUNDATIONS
  • 1939 – 1960s
    MANAGING POST-WAR GROWTH
  • 1976 – 1982
    NEW DEMANDS, NEW SOLUTIONS
  • 1984 – 1990s
    A GLOBAL PLAYER
  • 2000s – Present
    CONSOLIDATION AND GROWTH

1922: CEODEUX, the name of the company founded in 1922, started as a carbon dioxide manufacturing operation. Mr Auguste Théodore Schmitz saw growing demand for CO2 and had the idea of building a chemical plant in Lintgen, and distributing the gas in cylinders to breweries and other industrial firms.

1926: After this initial success, Mr Schmitz saw potential for diversification, and in 1926 the firm began producing valves for CO2 cylinders. This innovation was a commercial success, leading to other valves being added for use with oxygen, acetylene, nitrogen, and more. Those products were exported to neighboring countries: Germany, France, Belgium and The Netherlands.

Early 1930s: The product range was extended further, with fire extinguisher valves and water faucets.

THE STORY OF A 100-YEARS-OLD COMPANY
For 100 years, Rotarex has been a trend-setter, delivering high quality gas control products and systems to global clients. The Schmitz family – Rotarex’s shareholders and managers – have maintained a sustained commitment to innovation and excellence throughout.
Ceodeux was founded by Auguste Théodore Schmitz in 1922 to supply carbon dioxide to local businesses. The firm expanded into value manufacturing in 1926, the specialization in which the firm was to become a world leader.
His son Edgard Schmitz took over in 1947, and developed the company’s use of precision manufacturing technologies. During his time as CEO, the firm benefited from the growth of the use of gas cookers and heaters, and the 1970s oil crisis boosted demand for liquid petroleum gas. Edgard Schmitz also worked to build strong relationships with major western European gas producers.
Jean-Claude Schmitz took over in 1976 with the vision of growing the company worldwide. In the 1980s and 1990s major gas companies decided to focus on their core business, selling off their valve production capabilities, and the renamed Rotarex purchased much of this capacity. Jean-Claude Schmitz also reinforced the company’s technology leadership though investment in research, development, and innovation capabilities, as well as scaling up production and sales forces in Luxembourg and beyond. When he became CEO the workforce was about 100. Rotarex now employs around 2,000 people.
Today, Mr. Jean-Claude Schmitz acts as Chairman of the board of direction and as CEO, Mr. Philippe Schmitz as Deputy CEO and Director and Isabelle Schmitz as member of the executive committee and Director.
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Rotarex is a leading example of Luxembourg’s high quality, high value-adding manufacturing sector. This is a knowledge- driven company, drawing on the expertise of our diverse, highly skilled workforce.
Our multicultural, multilingual headquarters gives us cultural affinity with our global clients and operations. Most of our people in Luxembourg either cross Luxembourg’s borders to work each day, or are resident expatriates.
Communication with our network is also helped by the Grand Duchy being just a couple of hours from western Europe’s leading business capitals. Our work with research institutes in neighboring countries adds to our expertise and open outlook.
Our strong global quality standards are set in Luxembourg, where our product controllers maintain the highest levels of excellence. Our international operations give us detailed insight into the challenges faced by clients in around 150 markets, enabling us to adapt our products to suit these local needs.
We benefit from and add to Luxembourg’s innovation ecosystem. Rotarex’s research teams continue to work closely on applied research projects with the University of Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology.
We are strengthening our strategic commitment to the Grand Duchy with substantial investment in a new manufacturing and office facility. Located in Bissen, just 10km from our historical base in Lintgen, this plant will enable us to meet growing demand, and give our teams an ideal working environment.
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From our base just of the north of Luxembourg City, Rotarex leads the gas control products and systems sector. We have around 2,000 staff working in over 150 markets, with manufacturing plants and sales offices across Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East & Africa region.
Most of our production and innovation work is carried out in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and to this we have added ten manufacturing and R&D sites worldwide. This enables us to work closely with clients in different geographies, listening to their needs, customizing output accordingly and meeting delivery schedules. Demands of each client sector evolve constantly, and it is our mission to set trends globally.
Our strong international position was built over many decades. The acquisition in the 1980s of the valve production capabilities of many of Europe’s leading gas companies was a major strategic step forward. We also made a strong commitment to the US market in 1984 when we opened our first subsidiary there. Rotarex seized opportunities as central Europe opened up, beginning with us establishing an operation in the Czech Republic in 1993, as well as in China. Sales offices covering Asia, South America, and Africa completed the picture.
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Everywhere gas is used, our technologically advanced products maximize effectiveness, efficiency and safety. Our market- leading, trend-setting valves, regulators and systems ensure completely controlled use of a range of gases in a multitude of settings.
Only by being at the cutting edge of product development and innovation have we maintained growth and market-leadership. This effort is based on our strong business principles that guide our research, design, production and sales efforts.
Our technology is used for diverse applications such as alternative energy sources, in the medical sector, the beverage industry, for fire protection, in the electronics industry, the petrochemical sector, in laboratory settings, for high-spec welding, cryogenics, and much more. Solutions are often tailored specifically for individual needs.
Clients range from multinational gas producers to specialist small businesses with unique requirements. We build close relationships with each to ensure we meet their demands for the highest quality standards.
Lives are saved when medical professionals can trust our systems to treat patients. Our fire protection solutions swiftly minimize damage to valuable property and technology. Our products drive industrial efficiency, which helps both profitability and environmental sustainability. We also add fizz and fun to wine, cocktails, tea, coffee and more.
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Our core business is innovation. We invest 3% of our annual turnover in R&D, resulting in a portfolio of more than 350 patents. We set trends by bringing new innovative products to market. We do this in partnership with our loyal customers, as all our products are adapted to meet individual needs.
We established our first R&D center in 1977 in Luxembourg, and have since added many more around the world.
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Our internal research and development operations are central to our mission. We have more than 100 R&D engineers working globally on around 200 active projects. They analyze and test materials, as well as creating simulations and prototypes.
Simulation
To understand how our products will operate in the real world, including in extreme conditions, we simulate these environments. We observe static load capacity, crack propagation, frictional contact mechanics and more, enabling us to ensure that our products deliver at all times.
Rapid Prototyping
Our in-house prototyping workshop brings bright ideas to life quickly. Tools such high-level computer aided design and 3D printers enable us to show our ideas and prototypes to customers soon after our initial discussions.
Testing
We innovate as we test products and components. This ranges from leak detection to oxygen shock tests, through to more complex examinations like high pressure analysis up to 1,000 bar. Aging and endurance tests are also performed, including against temperatures as low as -190°C and as high as +80°C.
Electronics
Precise electronic components put users in control of how they use gas. We have a department focused on developing tools that do just this by measuring quantities, pressures and flows.
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Designing and perfecting ideally requires an holistic approach to developing products and production processes.
From developing the concept...
Rotarex innovations start in our four research and development centers, with dedicated departments for materials, simulation, electronics and more. Our technicians consider the require- ments of the application: the properties of the gas in question, where the product will be used, and customer constraints. The product is then designed, with simulations performed to test viability.
...through to creating a tangible prototype...
Prototyping teams turn these plans into a real sample. This prototype is then taken to our testing laboratory which refines the design.
...using high-grade materials...
We work with a wide range of raw materials, including brass, chrome plated brass, stainless steel and alloys like Monel or Hastelloy. This flexibility enables us to find the best fit for the requirements of each application
... in our production processes
Our production equipment and automated systems across multiple assembly lines are made by highly qualfied employees working in our internal business unit Automatec. Products for use in ultra-high purity environments are made in our cleanroom facilities where the necessary rigorous cleaning and surface treatment is assured.
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Each individual contribution by our skilled workforce is important to the achievement of our objective of remaining market leader. Breaking new ground is about working closely with clients to understand their precise needs and developing ideal solutions made to measure.
This is often a highly personal process, and Rotarex has the people willing to make the required extra effort. These close professional relationships mean that each staff member can see for themselves how they make a positive difference.
Employees benefit from the company being a global market leader, and they understand that vigilance, entrepreneurship and hard work are required to maintain this position. It is an outlook fostered by the management of this family firm, who understand the need to maintain a motivated workforce to ensure high levels of quality and problem-solving ability. Central to the decision to move to a new headquarters in Bissen is to give staff an optimal environment in which to work, in the ultimate interests of productivity and innovation.
Both new recruits and more experienced staff work in a mutually supportive environment. Training is given by tutors in a formal setting, and on-the-job by experienced colleagues. This is our workplace culture, with training conducted throughout the career of each staff member.
Our four global R&D centers are stimulating places in which to work. Operating at the cutting edge of this sector, our people bring bright ideas to fruition in cooperation with clients. It is motivating to see these innovations applied to their day-to-day work, evidence that the firm is building for the future every day.
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Making high quality products is company culture and is our everyday business. By taking care internally of every step in the development and manufacturing process we can react quickly while ensuring the highest product standards.
We take challenges with the utmost seriousness, meaning our products have never let our clients down in over 100 years.
We achieve this through our precision manufacturing techniques. This requires procedures and tolerance levels that are precise at microscopic levels, equivalent to those used in high-end watch making.
When we talk about high precision, this exceptional levels of tolerance and process quality. This includes the requirement for very fine surface finishes (Ra lower than 0.1 micron) and shape tolerances to the hundredths of a centimeter (10 microns). These must be repeatable at large scale production. These processes are the same as those use in the high-end watch industry.
We take seriously our responsibilities as a corporate citizen. While helping our clients to work more efficiently and in safe conditions, we understand the imperatives of environmental and social sustainability.
One of our fundamental commitments is ensuring safety. Rotarex products put our clients in control when they need it most. For example, in medical contexts, the precise control of gas can be crucial for patient care.
In less criticial situations, we help our users keep waste to a minimum. Our high levels of quality adds durability, and this too reduces waste and maintenance costs
We work internally to minimize our environmental impact. We have run an active waste-recycling policy for decades, plus our new multimillion plant in Bissen is designed with sustainability in mind. After completion it will host the second largest solar power generation park in Luxembourg. This will help us reach our target of a quarter of our electricity needs generated by green sources by 2030.
We are proud to employ around 2,000 people. We make stringent efforts to keep them safe in the work environment, and most of our people benefit from the high levels of social protection and benefits that are standard when working in Luxembourg.
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We are investing heavily to meet growing demand. This starts where it all began in Luxembourg, with multiple millions being spent on our new headquarters in Bissen.
At nearly 40,000m2, this facility will be 2.5 times the size of the Lintgen site. Over half of this will be for production, with 1,000m2 for our R&D teams, 700m2 for a laboratory, and there will be a fully automated storage area.
When completed, it will give our technical, production, sales, distribution and administrative staff the ideal conditions in which to innovate and serve our customers. It demonstrates our confidence in our clients’ capacity for growth.
Meanwhile in South Korea, we have just opened a new 7,000m2 sales, product management, research & development, laboratory, machining, assembly, and distribution facility. Located in Asan, just half an hour by high-speed train from Seoul, this facility will support growth in particular in the semiconductor, automobile and chemical industry in the country and the rest of Asia. A total of 70 jobs have been created. Eco-friendliness is a key concern, with the plant equipped with solar panels with 160KW capacity.
Rotarex’s 100 year story can give confidence during these troubled times. The firm has witnessed war, economic turmoil and pandemics, it has learned from these challenges, and continues to thrive. Here’s to the next 100 years!
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Rotarex 100 years anniversary

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